Have you grown beyond Excel? 

Questions to ask yourself to diagnose Excel fatigue 

 1. Can you pull decent volumes of data together easily and manipulate the information into formats to compare meaningful results. Qualify this answer with how many hours of work and resources does it take to do it currently, and are the results as accurate as you’d like or need?

 

2. Are you and your team having to do boring repetitive work to deliver budgets forecasts and reports. Or the impact on attracting and keeping talent: If you are struggling to fill key roles or you feel worn down by the process of planning then it’s time to think again. 

 
3. Have you time to think and analyse? Property company Get Living moved to a cloud forecasting solution and immediately saw benefits with ‘more time to think and less Excel jockeying, whilst avoiding the need for increasing headcount.
 
4. Are you struggling to handle the complexities in your planning models in Excel? If you feel Excel can do the job, reflect on the Finance controller of Home Appliance Guard's experience: when joining the company, he thought spreadsheets were more than adequate, but soon recognised that modelling marketing spend as the revenue driver alongside many product variables would soon become challenging in Excel. He now estimates the investment in cloud forecasting and planning will pay back in 2-3 years and avoid the hire of a business analyst.
 
5. Is Excel unable to reflect the way you need to plan. Marketing, tech, R&D, design and more are all elements which drive how you model forecast and budget. It may be that like Get living, you need to track detail to drive profit margins, or like Christian Aid the business is structured around projects, with varied dimensions and timelines where traditional cost centre budgeting doesn’t work.
 
For more information on what a modern cloud based planning software offers over Excel read on…

 

Faster analysis

Modelling multiple scenarios needs to be in the grasp of your growing business and if Excel can’t perform fast enough and to the degree of accuracy and detail you need, given the data you’re handling then a new forecasting solution needs to be in your plans.
 
Formaplex specialist manufacturer, experienced unprecedented growth, the then Finance Director, Peter Fredericks knew that Excel was impacting his ability to forecast effectively. The need to re-forecast faster was driven by cash flow fluctuations and outsourced overseas production. Peter used a lot of scenarios to look at the impact of project slip, or impact on funding and best and worst sales forecasts. This allows him to work out the sensitivity analysis of different forecast scenarios, with far more insight and flexibility. Growing fast impacts your forecast fast and scenarios can become critical to staying ahead.
 
Building multiple versions of forecasts allows for different scenarios. Using Excel to do this requires taking a copy of the spreadsheet, and all the dependent linked spreadsheets. This can become unwieldy; the Excel monster can quickly grow out of hand with multiple versions and scenarios being built.
 

Better communication

Don’t underestimate the need for sharing information anytime and anywhere on any device. These days company structure is global, suppliers from China, marketing in India or simply multiple national sites can create headaches when it comes to sharing and updating information.
 
Christian Aid charity needed to make it far easier for multiple sites to submit numbers to the budget, reduce the number of Excel spreadsheet versions and make building the budget faster and more accurate whilst still retaining the required detail.
Modern day forecasting systems use tailored drivers to speed up the process of building budgets and plans, making it easier for contributors to update information. This enables organisations to collect and report at different levels of detail. Pre-defined assumptions (drivers) makes updating and contributing to the plan far easier and quicker.
 
SDL Property company found the ability for different teams in different offices with different systems to update and add to the same ‘version’ of a sheet a real game changer. Whilst the ability to ‘create new users whilst waiting to board a plane’ or ‘slice and dice data at the kitchen table’ was invaluable.
 
Relevant, easy to digest information is also critical with so many mouths to feed with different tastes, Cost Centre managers, funders and other stakeholders demand easily generated and digestible reports built for them. CCL International, needed to have visibility of KPI's on a dashboard. This made it easier for senior managers to see and keep up-to-date with results visually, something virtually impossible to achieve in their old system.
 

Slick processes

Managing the process of growth inevitably demands strategy and vision. But sweeping away the comfort of Excel can raise the fear of long drawn out implementations and a frustrated team struggling with new systems.
 
User adoption is critical to system success and it need to be fast and easy to learn. A new planning solution which delivers the look and feel of Excel, with accounting processes at the heart, offers comfort to die hard Excel fans whilst cutting out drudge work a huge carrot to users with immediate benefit.
 
Mytime-Active leisure management had a cautious team who were reticent about learning a new system, managers were pleasantly surprised how quickly users ran with the new system. The implementation took just eight weeks and was painless.
With the right help, which comes down to both the right consultants as much as the right software, getting a new forecasting system shouldn't be daunting.
 
Ensuring there is security in place to limit access to sensitive information or avoiding deluging users with ‘too much information’ is becoming very important in a world of sensitivity to data management. People talk about passwords on Excel but these are (very) easy to circumvent. The right security levels enables more access to a wider audience and ultimately eases the pressure on management.
 
Smoothing the process of tracking updates and amendments speeds up budgeting cycles. Without visibility of seeing what changes have been made, or who made them processes can slip, hitting deadlines becomes tough and along with identifying inaccuracies and compliance. 
Using Excel to model means comments or visibility of formulas is difficult to add narrative. When versions are being shared and amalgamated much gets lost and it becomes tricky for others to read and understand the meaning behind the numbers. Using a cloud planning solution all this insights remains intact. plain English formulas and the ability to drill down to detail means understanding is not lost along the way to the boardroom, and you aren't put on the spot to 'justify' the numbers!
 
 

 

take your first steps to a new forecasting solution before you grow beyond Excel!

 
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